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Jan. 4, 2022

56: Yarn Detectives Part 2

56: Yarn Detectives Part 2

Welcome to 2022, everyone! The second half of our techniques for identifying mystery yarn. This week's letter is about changing needle sizes to get the correct gauge.


In Episode 55 we talked about how to the weight of mystery yarn; this week we're talking about ways to identify its fiber content. Grab your notebooks, goggles, and adventurously scientific spirit.

Here we go!

Smell Test

  • Animal fibers: it will smell like a wet sheep! Maybe a barn/hay smell too
  • Silk: may have an earthy or fishy smell
  • Synthetic fibers: generally no smell, maybe oily/artificial smell
  • Plant fibers: generally no smell

Felting Test

  • Animal fibers (including silk): will felt if non-superwash
  • Synthetic & plant fibers: will not felt

Bleach Test

  • Animal fibers: will fizz and dissolve in 12-24 hours
  • Silk: will dissolve in approximately two days
  • Synthetic & plant fibers: won't dissolve, may lose color

Acetone Test

  • Synthetic fibers: will dissolve
  • Animal fibers, silk, and plant fibers: will not react much at all

Burn Test

  • Animal fibers: will burn slowly and curl away from orange flame, will smell like burning hair or feathers
  • Silk: will burn slow and curl away, may char, may smell like burning hair or charred meat
  • Plant fibers: burn fast & give off smoke, leave light colored ash * cotton has a yellow flame * hemp & jute has a very bright flame * linen, hemp, and jute ash will still be in the shape of the yarn
    • Synthetic fibers: will burn (or really, melt!) quickly and emit a strong, black smoke

What's on our needles this week:

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